Sunday Post #82 – 03/12/2023

Sunday Post

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A post to recap the past week on your blog,
showcase books and things we have received.
Share news about what is coming up
on your blog
for the week ahead.
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This has been the most unusual reading week:

  • I DNFed a long classic that I enjoyed a lot and for which I wrote a fairly long review
  • I DNFed another book – the last book of a series I enjoyed a lot a few years ago
  • I read the weirdest maze-book ever!
  • I was starting a new audiobook when I received an audiobook I had reserved a long time ago through my public library, so I had to put book a) on the back-burner to listen to book b), the new arrival

I posted three times since last Sunday:


The Fifth Rule of Ten📚 The Fifth Rule of Ten
(Tenzing Norbu Mysteres #5),
by Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay
384 pages

I had really enjoyed the first 4 books of this series: you don’t often meet a detective who is a former Buddhist monk, and uses some of his wisdom to solve cases.
“Be mindful, both making and keeping commitments, that they be springboards to liberation, instead of suffering. That’s the Fifth Rule of Ten.
I realized I had never read the last book in the series so I set to do it.
But looks like I am in another mood, and this didn’t really work for me this time.
The beginning has a lot going on, with not a clear direction.
So I decided to stop. But I encourage you to read the first volumes!

Astra Lost in Space #4


📚 Astra Lost in Space, #4
by Kenta Shinohara
彼方のアストラ 3
was originally published in 2017
Translated from the Japanese by
Adrienne Beck
9/4/2018, by VIZ Media LLC
240 pages
Manga / Science-fiction

OMG, there’s so much in there, and so many revelations!
The big ones are well done, they go perfectly with the period and the theme.
We meet another character, and the revelations on what’s common to all the characters is awesome!
So many surprises, to the very end of the book!
I can’t wait to go pick up book 5 at my library. Too bad there are not more books in this series, I wish it were a longer series, as many mangas are.
I can’t say much to avoid spoilers, anyway you really need to read the books in order.
There are some really great vibes in this series, and how through adversity, the group becomes more and more a family, definnitely in this one.

Maze📚  Maze:
Solve the World’s Most Challenging Puzzle,
by Christopher Manson
1985, by Owl Books
96 pages
Puzzle book / mystery

I saw a reference of this in a book I recently read Rouvrir le roman – I think that’s where I read about it.
A narrator (the author as a new Daedelus?) is guiding you though his maze/labyrinth.
The book (landscape format) has 45 sets of pages: with a story on the left and an illustration on the right.
The illustrations are all in the same style, gorgeous drawings with lots of details.

Now, this is not your usual novel. In fact, starting from page 1, you are supposed to find clues, both in the text and the image, to figure what page to go to next (there are several numbers on each illustration).
The goal is to end up on page 45 and make it back to page 1 in as few moves as possible.
And there’s also a riddle to be found, and hen solved!
Originally, there was a big prize money for the winners when the book was published in 1985.
Each page story is written in such a way that the sentence going from one page to whatever over page makes sense. And depending on what journey you take, you end up with many versions of the story.

I had an idea where to go after page 1.
I was curious, so I looked online – there are forums of people totally obsessed with this book, very very serious stuff!
So I went there and of course discovered I had been oh so wrong about my choice.
It also took me a while to understand all the clues pointing in the right direction. I was like, wow, could I have found THAT!!
Obviously I’m not smart and logic enough to do the journey, and I ended up reading the story by turning the pages in chronological order from 1 to 45.

This is a very fascinating endeavor, showing that novels can have so many formats and variations.
With it, you can basically have your own Escape Room at home, and this will keep you busy for hours and hours. Good luck!

Fable Comics


📚 Fable Comics,
edited by Chris Duffy
2015, by First Second
124 pages

This is a fascinating collection of 28 famous fable retellings, by 26 different artists. I found it because I really enjoy Tom Gauld (see a nice example here), and he has one fable in this collection.
Most fables are actually originally from Aesop, but there are some also from Indian or Japanese tradition.
I love the concept and the result.
The only reason I didn’t give it 5 stars is that I found the art quality of some cartoons not too good. But some, like Gauld’s of course, are fabl-ulous.

This past week, I also finished a book on Orthodox spirituality. See my notes:
Book Notes on The Song of Tears: An Essay on Repentance based on the Great Canon of St Andrew of Crete, by Olivier Clément

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman🎧 The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman,
by Laurence
735 pages
Literary fiction / Humor
It counts for The Classics Club

Alas, I had to stop, after listening to 15% of the work (that is about 3H30 out of 22 hours, and an equivalent of 110 pages out of 735 pages).
But what I listened to enabled me to appreciate the originality of the book and its qualities.
Check my review
(yes for once I wrote a long review of a book I DNFed!) to see why it’s an important book.


Why Read the Classics📚 Why Read The Classics?
by Italo Calvino
Perché leggere i classici
was published in 1991
306 pages
Nonfiction / Book on Books

Slowly plodding along.
This was another exhausting week, so I didn’t read as much as I wanted of this one, as it requires a bit more of effort – am reading it in Italian.
After the essays on antique literature, I’m now in la Renaissance. I read the essay on Tirant lo Blanc, a chivalric roamnce published in 1490 – Valencian literature. It has interesting parallels with Don Quijote.
And I am now in the one on Orlando furioso, an Italian epic poem by Ariosto (early 16th century).

Arvo Pärt_Out of Silence📚 Arvo Pärt: Out of Silence,
by Peter C. Bouteneff
Published in 2015
231 pages
Nonfiction / Biography / Music / Eastern Orthodoxy

Slowly but surely going ahead with this one as well.
The author now shows how new music emerged from Pärt‘s years of silence, and he parallels that to theological dimensions of silence.
Good meaty stuff!

“Listeners often speak of a certain mystery in the way that Arvo Pärt evokes spirituality through his music, but no one has taken a sustained, close look at how he achieves this. Arvo Pärt: Out of Silence examines the powerful interplay between Pärt’s music and the composer’s own deep roots in the Orthodox Christian faith—a relationship that has born much creative fruit and won the hearts of countless listeners across the globe.”

L'Arabe du future #1

📚 L’Arabe du futur :
Une jeunesse au Moyen-Orient, 1978–1984
(L’Arabe du futur, #1)
by Riad Sattouf
Published in 2014
158 pages
Available in English as
The Arab of the Future:
A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984
French nonfiction / Graphic novel / Memoir / History
Reading with French student F.

Now the author, as a young boy of 4, has arrived in Syria, where his dad has finally decided to return, counting on his family’s support. He is shocked however to see the state and evolution of his country and its politics.
I am curious to see how things are going to go from there, especially for the author’s French mother.

The Arab of the Future, the #1 French best-seller, tells the unforgettable story of Riad Sattouf’s childhood, spent in the shadows of 3 dictators—Muammar Gaddafi, Hafez al-Assad, and his father.
In striking, virtuoso graphic style that captures both the immediacy of childhood and the fervor of political idealism, Riad Sattouf recounts his nomadic childhood growing up in rural France, Gaddafi’s Libya, and Assad’s Syria–but always under the roof of his father, a Syrian Pan-Arabist who drags his family along in his pursuit of grandiose dreams for the Arab nation.

Éclipses japonaises


📚 Éclipses japonaises,
by Éric Faye
240 pages
Literary fiction

This is the random book from the titles I added to my TBR last month. Click here to read in the introduction of the post what I am talking about.

I read Nagasaki by the same author a few years ago, and gave it “5 Eiffel Towers”! So I thought to try this one.

I like the fluidity of the narrative, and the mystery aspect, as it will probably take most of the book to fgure out how characters are connected.
I’m now with Sae-Jin, this very intriguing brilliant young North Korean girl, who got recruted very early on, to help her nation thanks to her brains.
She was just sent to a very dangerous mission. 
As she was arrested right after her mission, she failed to swallow her poison pill, so she is in for interrogations.
The author nicely shows how little by little, she was basically trapped by her desire to help and honnor her country, into a very tough life she would never have chosen by herself, and how she tries hard to find a meaning to the fact she had sacrifice herself, to give up her boyfriend and family, in order to follow the government orders.
The political context is very contemporary, even though the book is set (so far) right before the South Korea 1988 Summer Olympics.

Éclipses japonaises hasn’t been pubished yet in French, so here is a translation of the official synopsis:
In 1966, an American G. I. mysteriously disappeared during a patrol in the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas. He is considered “missing”.
At the end of the 1970s, on the coasts of the Sea of Japan, men and women, of all ages and from all walks of life, vanished. Among them, a schoolgirl who came home alone from school, an archaeologist who was about to post her thesis, and a future nurse who wanted to buy an ice cream.
“Hidden by the gods”, as they say in Japanese.These victims left no trace, not a clue, thus puzzling the investigators. One by one, the cases got closed, the families left to incomprehension, and the disappeared  poeple forgotten.
In 1987, Korean Air Flight 858 exploded in midair. One of the terrorists, who got off the plane during a stopover, was arrested. She spoke in perfect Japanese. However, the police eventually identified a spy who came straight from North Korea.
Twenty-five years later, the Japanese “hidden by the gods” reappeared like ghosts, in the lands of Kim Jong-un.
Then, it is the turn of the G. I. to reappear in a North Korean propaganda TV movie, where the CIA saw him playing the role of a hated American.
Are all these cases related?

Babel 🎧  Babel, Or the Necessity of Violence:
An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution,
by R. F. Kuang
544 pages
22 hours
Fantasy / Historical fiction

I was going to retry in audio a classic scifi that didn’t work for me years ago (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – what?? yes, I know!), but that same day, I got news that it was my time to get Babel in audio through my public library. So I’ll keep Douglas Adams for after.
So many of you read this one last year, it’s about time. I was hesitating at first because of the fantasy etiquette, as I don’t read much in that genre, but the linguistic aspect pulled me in.
So far, about 2H17 in, there’s not too much fantasy yet. Robin has just arrived in Oxford.
I like the descriptions and the main characters, smart Robin and mysterious Professor Lovell, so far.
The passages on books and languages are so fabulous. This woman knows how to write!
Here are a few lines I like a lot:

“That’s the beauty of learning a new language. It should feel like an enormous undertaking. It ought to intimidate you. It makes you appreciate the complexity of the ones you know already.’… ‘Every language is complex in its own way. Latin just happens to work its complexity into the shape of the word. Its morphological richness is an asset, not an obstacle.’
Chapter 2
Professor Lovell says that to Robin, as the boy is totally overwhelmed after his first day of heavy duty classes to learn both Latin and Greek

Inside, the heady wood-dust smell of freshly printed books was overwhelming. If tobacco smelled like this, Robin thought, he’d huff it every day. He stepped towards the closest shelf, hand lifted tentatively towards the books on display, too afraid to touch them – they seemed so new and crisp; their spines were uncracked, their pages smooth and bright. Robin was used to well-worn, waterlogged tomes; even his Classics grammars were decades old. These shiny, freshly bound things seemed like a different class of object, things to be admired from a distance rather than handled and read.
‘Pick one,’ said Professor Lovell. ‘You ought to know the feeling of acquiring your first book.’
Chapter 2


Kallocain📚 Kallocain,
by Karin Boye
193 pages
Dystopia / science-fiction

I’ll be reading it for The #1940Club
It counts for The Classics Club

“This is a novel of the future, profoundly sinister in its vision of a drab terror. Ironic and detached, the author shows us the totalitarian World-state through the eyes of a product of that state, scientist Leo Kall. Kall has invented a drug, kallocain, which denies the privacy of thought and is the final step towards the transmutation of the individual human being into a “happy, healthy cell in the state organism.” For, says Leo, “from thoughts and feelings, words and actions are born. How then could these thoughts and feelings belong to the individual? Doesn’t the whole fellow-soldier belong to the state? To whom should his thoughts and feelings belong then, if not to the state?”
As the first-person record of Leo Kall, scientist, fellow-soldier too late disillusioned to undo his previous actions, Kallocain achieves a chilling power and veracity that place it among the finest novels to emerge from the strife-torn Europe of the twentieth century.”


The Cat's Table

📚 The Cat’s Table, by Michael Ondaatje
269 pages
Historical fiction

The only book I read by Ondaatje, nonfiction, disappointed me.
But Davida at The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog convinced me to try this one.

“In the early 1950s, an eleven-year-old boy in Colombo boards a ship bound for England. At mealtimes he is seated at the “cat’s table” – as far from the Captain’s Table as can be – with a ragtag group of “insignificant” adults and two other boys, Cassius and Ramadhin. As the ship makes its way across the Indian Ocean, through the Suez Canal, into the Mediterranean, the boys tumble from one adventure to another, bursting all over the place like freed mercury. But there are other diversions as well: one man talks with them about jazz and women, another opens the door to the world of literature. The narrator’s elusive, beautiful cousin Emily becomes his confidante, allowing him to see himself “with a distant eye” for the first time, and to feel the first stirring of desire. Another Cat’s Table denizen, the shadowy Miss Lasqueti, is perhaps more than what she seems. And very late every night, the boys spy on a shackled prisoner, his crime and his fate a galvanizing mystery that will haunt them forever.
As the narrative moves between the decks and holds of the ship and the boy’s adult years, it tells a spellbinding story – by turns poignant and electrifying – about the magical, often forbidden, discoveries of childhood and a lifelong journey that begins unexpectedly with a spectacular sea voyage..”


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